Community News

Eve Blau Named Director of the Davis Center

First woman to serve as Center’s faculty director will lead from July 2022.

Eve Blau, a renowned scholar of architecture and urbanism, has been named the director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Blau will begin her three-year term July 1.

“The Davis Center today plays a vital role in understanding geopolitical events in the region and their implications for the world at large,” said Lawrence D. Bobo, dean of the Division of Social Sciences, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, and Harvard College Professor. “Eve Blau embodies the interdisciplinary spirit and innovative methods that are the lifeblood of the regional centers. I am delighted to welcome her to this important leadership role in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.”

Blau is Adjunct Professor of the History and Theory of Urban and Form and Design and serves as Director of Research at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research and teaching explore cities and urban regions in the post-socialist world that have experienced large-scale adjustments to new forms of polity, systemic institutional change, and economic reorganization. She teaches courses on urban design and has led research seminars such as Berlin as Laboratory; Baku: Oil and Urbanism; and Mapping Cultural Space across Eurasia, an interdisciplinary seminar developed with FAS faculty at the Davis Center.

She is co-director of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, a cross-Harvard initiative that brings together scholars and resources from across the University to foster innovative approaches to the study of cities and urbanization. The initiative has also developed new collaborative research practices that integrate scholarship, design, and media around the study of urban environments, and awards grants to students and faculty across Harvard to pursue urban-focused research projects.

“Eve Blau will undoubtedly build on the Davis Center’s strength of cultivating deep, evidenced-based knowledge of the Eurasian region while bringing regional studies closer to practice,” said Rawi Abdelal, Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at Harvard Business School and outgoing director of the Davis Center. “Her ability to imagine limitless possibilities makes her the ideal person to lead the Davis Center at this moment of profound global turmoil and transition.”

Blau has been a faculty associate of the Davis Center for the last decade and has served on its Executive Committee since 2014. She is the first woman to serve as director. In her new role, she will oversee the academic and programmatic efforts of the Davis Center, working directly with faculty affiliates and staff on activities such as the Master’s Degree Program in Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA), the undergraduate Secondary Field in Regional Studies, fellowship programs, seminars, graduate and undergraduate research aid, oversight of the Outreach Program and the Davis Center Collection, financial planning and staffing, as well as new initiatives.

“I am excited at the chance to collaborate more closely with Eve,” said Alexandra Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center and director of graduate studies for the REECA Master’s Degree Program. “Her work integrates social science perspectives with digital and visual media, a combination that will enrich our connections across disciplines and advance the Center’s public-facing endeavors.”

Prior to coming to Harvard, Blau served as curator of exhibitions and publications at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Blau has written extensively on modern architecture and urbanism and has curated numerous exhibitions. She is the author of several award-winning books, including Baku: Oil and Urbanism; The Architecture of Red Vienna, 1919–1934; Project Zagreb: Transition as Condition, Strategy, Practice; and Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe 1890–1937, which was also a major international exhibition shown in Prague, Vienna, Montreal, and Los Angeles.

In 2022, Blau was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; she was named a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians in 2018, and in 2014 was awarded the Victor Adler State Prize by the Republic of Austria for her contributions to the history of social movements and the innovative methods of her scholarship.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to work more closely with the Davis Center,” said Blau. “This is such a critical time for Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and indeed the entire world. I am looking forward to working closely with faculty, staff, and students to meet this moment with the effort and creativity it requires.”